In the spirit of Easter, it’s time to veganize an old-time fave.
Butternut squash and nutritional yeast make this a cheezy pasta that you can feel good about devouring.
Mac & Cheese, hold the cheese, and the peas.
Easter used to mean Mom’s famous Mac & Cheese with baked maple ham. This was a rare occurrence…. a special occasion kind of meal.
My Mom was always the first to tell me to get in my veggies and ditch the processed junk. All organic all the time and hotdogs were out of the question. I was the kid in school with carrot sticks, oranges, potato leek soup and veggie & cheese sandwiches while the other kids around me indulged in chips, pepperoni sticks and chocolate bars. I’d be lying if I didn’t try to make a few trades in elementary school… carrots for chips? I don’t think so…
I thank her for it now though, all the organic goodies and veggie snacks help me develop a palate for healthy deliciousness, and the ability to really taste the true ingredients of whole, organic, unprocessed foods.
But, we didn’t know as much then as we do now about nutrition, animal welfare and environmental impacts of our food system. So, like me, after books, documentaries and research, she has adopted a plant-based diet for longevity, energy, overall health and the environment and she is LOVing it.
- Butternut squash is packed with dietary fibre to keep you regular, helps your eyesight with vitamin A, keeps your bones strong with manganese and vitamin C, and is chalk full of minerals to prevent osteoporosis. Plus with almost no fat and few calories, it’s a perfect weight loss food that will keep you satisfied, and nourished with antioxidants.
- Nutritional yeast AKA ‘nooch’ is high in B vitamins, minerals and amino acids. These amino acids are easily digestible. It’s one of the best sources of vitamin B12 – something everyone should be making sure they get enough of, especially vegans!
- Green peas are low-fat, low calorie, nutrient dense, plant-protein powerhouses. Eat them up! They’re great for weight loss, high in antioxidants for anti-aging, and high in vitamin K to help anchor calcium inside your bones.
Butternut Mac & Peas
Serves: 8-10 (makes great leftovers too, if you don’t have 8 people to serve)
Time: 1 hour
- 2 bags of pasta noodles of choice (go for brown rice or quinoa pasta to make it gluten-free!)
- 1 head of broccoli, chop florets evenly
- 1 cup green peas
- 4 sprigs parsley
For cheeze sauce:
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups almond milk (unsweetened, plain)
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (or pressed with garlic press)
- 5-6 cups butternut squash, cubed (about 1 large butternut squash)
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Pre-heat oven to 375 deg F
- Oil-free roast the butternut squash and broccoli: spread squash on parchment covered, or reusable baking sheet liner covered baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes. Flip them over, and add broccoli to the sheet. Bake another 10 minutes
- Water sauté onions and garlic: while veggies are roasting, heat a deep pot (the same one you will be using to cook the pasta) to medium, add chopped onions to the pan. Stir until they start to caramelize on the bottom of the pan. Add 2 tbsp water, continue to stir to combine the delicious brown caramelized pieces. Add more water if it’s sticking still. Add minced garlic. Sauté until translucent (about 5-10 minutes)
- Pour the onions and garlic into your blender
- Cook pasta: fill up that same pot with water and a twist of salt, bring to a boil, add pasta and cook according to bag
- Make sauce: add 2 cups of roasted squash to the blender with the garlic and onion. Add nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, and 1 cup almond milk. Blend until smooth. Add the rest of the butternut squash, and more almond milk to blend if needed
- Mix together: strain the pasta and pour it into a deep dish baking dish. Add sauce, peas and broccoli. Mix until combined
- Bake for 10 minutes *
- Make vegan parmesan: Blend all parm ingredients together in food processor or blender into a fine meal (can be stored in fridge for several weeks)
- Serve with a sprig of parsley and a sprinkle of parmesano.
*Note – you can skip the baking step, and just mix it all together, stove-top, in the deep pot